Home for the Holidays: Florist’s Cyclamen

I am sure you have seen the beautiful holiday plant, cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum). Also called florist’s cyclamen, this plant blooms during winter and is a popular gift plant. The flowers, which are high above the foliage, last for several months. Cyclamen is available in a range of sizes, from mini to large, as well as flower colors in magenta, red, pink, and white. Beautiful as it is, it is not an easy plant to grow. Here are tips to prolong the bloom and save for next year.

While it is blooming during the holidays, give it bright indirect light. It prefers day temperatures of 60-70 degrees and night temperatures of 40-50 degrees. It also prefers high humidity. Usually homes in the winter have low humidity so you can place the plant on a tray of pebbles with a little water. However, make sure you have a saucer between the container and the pebbles. The root system is a tuber that is prone to rot.

Water when the soil feels dry, like dry in the top inch, but before it is completely dry. Do not let it sit in water — do not let it sit in the saucer of water. Likewise, when watering, aim for the side of the crown, not on the leaves, and not on the crown (central growing point). If you purchased it in the decorative foil covering, it best to remove that and put the pot (make sure it has drainage holes) on a saucer.

You can feed with a diluted liquid low nitrogen fertilizer to prolong blooms, something like an African violet fertilizer.

After flowering, the leaves will turn yellow, and your first thought may be that it is dying, or it needs something like more water or fertilizer. This is actually the beginning of its dormant stage. Don’t try to keep it green with more watering, let it rest during the summer. Put the plant in a cool, dark area with good air circulation. Don’t water or feed during its dormant period.

In the late summer, early fall, bring the plant back to bright indirect light and water thoroughly at first. You will see new green growth. Treat it like when you first purchased it and it should bloom again. It may not look as luscious, but it can serve as a long lasting houseplant.

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